SIDNEY – Journalism, emergency medicine, elder care and substance abuse recovery have very little in common – unless you’re Sidney native R. Michael Johnson.
Johnson was recently appointed as executive director of Samaritan Works, a non-denominational, faith-based sober living program for men and women based in Sidney.
“This just goes to prove that you can make all the plans in the world, but sometimes, God has other things in mind for your life,” Johnson said.
“After spending more than half my life in the newspaper business, I decided to finally take my late father’s advice and ‘grow up and get a real job,’” Johnson smiled.
An emergency medical technician and basic life support instructor, Johnson said the switch to the health care industry was actually an easy one to make a number of years ago.
“When I owned a newspaper in Indiana, I got involved in the local volunteer fire department – which led me to discover emergency medicine,” he said. “Quite frankly, I fell in love with treating the sick and injured, as opposed to running into burning buildings.”
Johnson came back to Sidney nearly a decade ago to assist with his late mother’s care decisions, and at that time, entered the world of elder care management. Most recently, he was director of operations for one of the largest nursing home and assisted living facilities in Allen County.
“But, the Lord had another road he wanted me to travel” Johnson said. “When I heard of the opportunity to help recovering drug and alcohol addicts walk a new, sober, faith-fueled path, I had to jump at it.”
Johnson began his duties as executive director of Samaritan Works Inc., in mid-October.
He said the most attractive side to Samaritan Works was that it is a faith-based recovery program.
“Throughout my careers in journalism, emergency medicine and nursing homes, I have seen one constant with those addicted to drugs and/or alcohol,” he said. “That constant is that something very, very important was missing from their lives. And, that missing element was God.”
He continued, “These are not bad people. These are people who made bad decisions and, admittedly, weren’t living right – neither legally nor spiritually.”
He noted that Philippians 13:4 puts it all in perspective for him. “The verse simply states that I can do anything with God’s help,” Johnson said. “That is an absolute truth. There is no debate.”
He noted all 12-step recovery programs have a component that includes admission of one’s powerlessness over their addiction and the need for the assistance of God to overcome their inner demons.
“Knowing that, it’s kind of nice to be able to go home every day, with the knowledge you are making a difference in people’s lives – no matter how small,” he said. “These folks want to once-again be productive members of society. It’s humbling that God would call me to help Him in their journey.”
Johnson is the son of the late Dick and Shirley Johnson and lives in the long-time family home on the north side of Sidney with Matilda the Hun, a three-month-old neurotic kitten.
Samaritan Works Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable program which provides safe and stable housing and daily education and encouragement for recovering addicts, as well as giving assistance during the period of transitioning back into the community. The mission of Samaritan Works is sustained whole life recovery for men and women affected by substance abuse.
Samaritan Works may be reached at 937-638-4545 or at [email protected].